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  1. #1
    Ajani
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    Audiophile Myths or Facts?

    Ok... a few recent threads (like the one about Denon's new $500 Ethernet cable) got me thinking about what I really believe...

    Audiophile Myths or Facts? What's your opinion on any of these highly debated audio topics? N.B. Let's try and keep this clean... we are probably going to strongly disagree on many of these, but that doesn't mean we have to be nasty to one another...

    So here goes:

    1) Upgrading Cables makes a sonic difference - IMO yes, but not a major one. Some very cheap and basic initial upgrades to thick, properly shielded cables will solve all my cable needs. Anything more expensive seems more about high profit margins than value for money to me.

    2) Vibration control devices (feet, heavy rocks, platforms/whatever) improve sound quality - IMO, probably - just listen to how bad a skipped record or CD sounds and it should be clear that vibration can affect sound... however, I think most products are sufficiently heavy, that unless you live on a train vibration probably isn't that big a deal.

    3) Upgrading power cords/filtering power supplies improve sound - Theoretically yes... Based on how bad simple magnetic interference can make a tv image look, I can imagine a similar effect with sound quality... But I question how many of us live in areas with truly poor electrical signals/interference and also whether the standard shielded power cables of our components aren't sufficient...

    4) Source makes a great difference in sound - Yes... but I think the biggest difference is the quality of the recording and not the 'quality' of the CD player. I've heard definite differences between CD players/lossless computer audio and DVD players... but truth is that none of it was significant to me apart from in painstaking direct comparsons... But a poor quality recording tends to be obvious.

    5) Bi-wiring your speakers improves sound - I doubt it. So far I've been unable to tell the difference between single and bi-wired speakers even in direct comparison.

    Also, feel free to add any of your own myths/facts...

  2. #2
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    1) yes, and IMHO, it makes a 'more than subtle' improvement, not only when changing the regular zip cord to a shielded cable. I've heard 'BIG' differences between different cables costing (both costing the same, as varying prices...)

    2) yes. definately. The most noticable improvement was when I wallmounted my tt, and put spikes underneath it. Upcoming will be spikes for the speakers, and a new rack.

    3) Yes, but more subtle, I believe that a power cord can 'complete' the effect, when combined with a filter/regenerator.

    4) YES. of course, the record quality eventually makes the biggest difference, but the source is what reads that, if you got a bad source, you have bad sound. No matter how good the recording can be.

    5) Sometimes, yes, I think...

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  3. #3
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani

    1) Upgrading Cables makes a sonic difference - IMO yes, but not a major one. Some very cheap and basic initial upgrades to thick, properly shielded cables will solve all my cable needs. Anything more expensive seems more about high profit margins than value for money to me.
    Ditto, not a major difference. I've even used cheap cables in a pinch and couldn't hear a difference over short runs. Some shielding benefits, and some cables are engineered to alter the sound, but if the gauge is sufficient then for the most part quality cabling = peace of mind more than performance.

    2) Vibration control devices (feet, heavy rocks, platforms/whatever) improve sound quality - IMO, probably - just listen to how bad a skipped record or CD sounds and it should be clear that vibration can affect sound... however, I think most products are sufficiently heavy, that unless you live on a train vibration probably isn't that big a deal.
    Damping control for speakers - yes. An audio equipment - No, with the exception of my TT. Go figure.

    3) Upgrading power cords/filtering power supplies improve sound - Theoretically yes... Based on how bad simple magnetic interference can make a tv image look, I can imagine a similar effect with sound quality... But I question how many of us live in areas with truly poor electrical signals/interference and also whether the standard shielded power cables of our components aren't sufficient...
    Had some weird interference through a power cable once. It was noticeable. To me it's either the presence of interference generated by a problem source, or nothing at all. No degrees of improvement in other words.

    4) Source makes a great difference in sound - Yes... but I think the biggest difference is the quality of the recording and not the 'quality' of the CD player. I've heard definite differences between CD players/lossless computer audio and DVD players... but truth is that none of it was significant to me apart from in painstaking direct comparsons... But a poor quality recording tends to be obvious.
    Ditto, on recording being more important - differences are very small, and getting smaller each year IMO. Budget equipment using better DAC's than years past? Used to notice a small gap between entry level and more expensive source players, now it's extremely small. I'll assume trickle down effect or progression of technology. Either way...

    5) Bi-wiring your speakers improves sound - I doubt it. So far I've been unable to tell the difference between single and bi-wired speakers even in direct comparison.
    Ditto, no audible difference from bi-wiring observed by me ever...yet. Willing to be proved wrong, though. To be honest, this can be executed at such a low cost that's worth the risk of this being myth in many cases, so not really contentious for me. I don't think it hurts, if you've got the cable and the option...what's the harm?

  4. #4
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Fine, Ajani,

    Let's go for it. Let me say my opinions are based on my personal experience with entry and mid-level systems, not really high-end stuff.

    My comments in context ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    Ok... a few recent threads (like the one about Denon's new $500 Ethernet cable) got me thinking about what I really believe...

    Audiophile Myths or Facts? What's your opinion on any of these highly debated audio topics? N.B. Let's try and keep this clean... we are probably going to strongly disagree on many of these, but that doesn't mean we have to be nasty to one another...

    So here goes:

    1) Upgrading Cables makes a sonic difference - IMO yes, but not a major one. Some very cheap and basic initial upgrades to thick, properly shielded cables will solve all my cable needs. Anything more expensive seems more about high profit margins than value for money to me.
    There have been a couple of occasions where I've thought I heard a difference, but in any case differences were exceedingly small.
    2) Vibration control devices (feet, heavy rocks, platforms/whatever) improve sound quality - IMO, probably - just listen to how bad a skipped record or CD sounds and it should be clear that vibration can affect sound... however, I think most products are sufficiently heavy, that unless you live on a train vibration probably isn't that big a deal.
    It might depend. The shelving that I've been using for a few years is very good as damping vibrations. A few months ago I put some Sorbothane-type pads under my tube preamp but I hear absolutely not difference.
    3) Upgrading power cords/filtering power supplies improve sound - Theoretically yes... Based on how bad simple magnetic interference can make a tv image look, I can imagine a similar effect with sound quality... But I question how many of us live in areas with truly poor electrical signals/interference and also whether the standard shielded power cables of our components aren't sufficient...
    I've never actually heard any difference, but power cords are good EMI/RFI transmitters and receivers so having a shielded PC could make difference.
    4) Source makes a great difference in sound - Yes... but I think the biggest difference is the quality of the recording and not the 'quality' of the CD player. I've heard definite differences between CD players/lossless computer audio and DVD players... but truth is that none of it was significant to me apart from in painstaking direct comparsons... But a poor quality recording tends to be obvious.
    They do make a difference but the differences are typically much smaller than speakers, amps, preamp, and even tubes in preamps. On the other hand I'm still waiting to hear a >$1000 CDP or DAC in my system.
    5) Bi-wiring your speakers improves sound - I doubt it. So far I've been unable to tell the difference between single and bi-wired speakers even in direct comparison.
    Truth is I've only had one pair that were capable of bi-wiring, but in that case I heard absolutely no difference.
    Also, feel free to add any of your own myths/facts...

  5. #5
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I have to disagree about CDP's. I have had 3 quality CDP's, the 840c, Music Hall 25.2 and the Marantz 8001. All have a very distinct and noticably different sound in my system. Maybe its my Magnepans which are very sensitive to the quality of recorded music as well as the quality of the amplifier. I think that CDP's can impact the sound of your system as much if not more than an amplifier and certainly much more than any cable, IC or power cord.
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  6. #6
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    Here are my thoughts, based solely on my personal experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    Ok... a few recent threads (like the one about Denon's new $500 Ethernet cable) got me thinking about what I really believe...

    Audiophile Myths or Facts? What's your opinion on any of these highly debated audio topics? N.B. Let's try and keep this clean... we are probably going to strongly disagree on many of these, but that doesn't mean we have to be nasty to one another...

    So here goes:

    1) Upgrading Cables makes a sonic difference - IMO yes, but not a major one. Some very cheap and basic initial upgrades to thick, properly shielded cables will solve all my cable needs. Anything more expensive seems more about high profit margins than value for money to me.

    I totally agree. I upgraded all my cables and there was a noticeable improvement. I ignored the marketing hype and bought relatively inexpensive but good quality cables.

    2) Vibration control devices (feet, heavy rocks, platforms/whatever) improve sound quality - IMO, probably - just listen to how bad a skipped record or CD sounds and it should be clear that vibration can affect sound... however, I think most products are sufficiently heavy, that unless you live on a train vibration probably isn't that big a deal.

    I have my doubts about this. Perhaps there is some value in doing this for turntables, given the nature of how they work, but I am skeptical about the value of it for other equipment. However, I have no personal experience to base this on.

    3) Upgrading power cords/filtering power supplies improve sound - Theoretically yes... Based on how bad simple magnetic interference can make a tv image look, I can imagine a similar effect with sound quality... But I question how many of us live in areas with truly poor electrical signals/interference and also whether the standard shielded power cables of our components aren't sufficient...

    Don't know, haven't tried.

    4) Source makes a great difference in sound - Yes... but I think the biggest difference is the quality of the recording and not the 'quality' of the CD player. I've heard definite differences between CD players/lossless computer audio and DVD players... but truth is that none of it was significant to me apart from in painstaking direct comparsons... But a poor quality recording tends to be obvious.

    Source equipment certainly does make a big difference, but the quality of the recording is the main factor.

    5) Bi-wiring your speakers improves sound - I doubt it. So far I've been unable to tell the difference between single and bi-wired speakers even in direct comparison.

    I have bi-wired my speakers, and it has definitely made an improvement. Similar to the improvement I got from upgrading my cables. Maybe the improvement was just due to the extra thickness from the two cable runs, I don't really know. I think the results here may be highly variable from one system to another, but it worked in my system.

    Also, feel free to add any of your own myths/facts...
    All we are saying, is give peas a chance.

  7. #7
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by basite
    The most noticable improvement was when I wallmounted my tt, and put spikes underneath it.
    Hmmm, I should have specifically mentioned turntables in my initial post. My belief is that a lot of the notions about vibration control started with turntables (and rightfully so, since vibration is a definite problem for turntables) and have been passed on to other components such as cd players, amps and speakers...

    But even though vibration control might be essential for a TT, that doesn't mean other components will receive the same (if any) benefit from it.

    Frankly, I also believe that most of the 'source first' arguements also started with the TT and eventually migrated to the early CD players and now current models. Despite having very limited experience with TT's, I know they can sound quite different and simple mods can alter/improve their performance greatly. However, I'm still not convinced that the current generation of digital players are as diverse in sound.

    Just recently I've read two CD Player reviews that I found really interesting... One was in Stereophile: the review of the Marantz SA8001... in which the reviewer admitted to not being able to tell the difference between the 8001, the Benchmark DAC1 and his reference Marantz (either SA15S1 or SA11S1). Then I read another review recently (I think from stereo times) where the reviewer couldn't tell the difference between the Benchmark DAC1 and the Marantz CD5001. While I would expect all 3 Marantz models to sound somewhat similiar (based on the Marantz 'house sound') and I can imagine that Benchmark might also have a similiar sound, I really would expect the reviewers to be able to easily pick between a $300, a $900, a $2K CD player and a $1K DAC, if the difference in digital sources is as massive as some claim.

  8. #8
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    I have to disagree about CDP's. I have had 3 quality CDP's, the 840c, Music Hall 25.2 and the Marantz 8001. All have a very distinct and noticably different sound in my system. Maybe its my Magnepans which are very sensitive to the quality of recorded music as well as the quality of the amplifier. I think that CDP's can impact the sound of your system as much if not more than an amplifier and certainly much more than any cable, IC or power cord.
    If I remember correctly, you found the largest difference between the Marantz and the others... with the Marantz being 'warmer' than the Cambridge and the Music Hall?

    I wonder whether that could be due to different voicing of the players? I mean, whether Marantz goes for a less pronounced treble than say Music Hall and Cambridge...

    To be honest, I suspect that some of the differences we do hear in brands isn't always that one sounds better/is more detailed than another, but may just be the way manufacturers choose to voice their components. Just try increasing/decreasing the treble/bass on an amp and see how different you can get it to sound.

  9. #9
    rockin' the mid-fi audio_dude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani

    1) Upgrading Cables makes a sonic difference - IMO yes, but not a major one. Some very cheap and basic initial upgrades to thick, properly shielded cables will solve all my cable needs. Anything more expensive seems more about high profit margins than value for money to me.

    2) Vibration control devices (feet, heavy rocks, platforms/whatever) improve sound quality - IMO, probably - just listen to how bad a skipped record or CD sounds and it should be clear that vibration can affect sound... however, I think most products are sufficiently heavy, that unless you live on a train vibration probably isn't that big a deal.

    3) Upgrading power cords/filtering power supplies improve sound - Theoretically yes... Based on how bad simple magnetic interference can make a tv image look, I can imagine a similar effect with sound quality... But I question how many of us live in areas with truly poor electrical signals/interference and also whether the standard shielded power cables of our components aren't sufficient...

    4) Source makes a great difference in sound - Yes... but I think the biggest difference is the quality of the recording and not the 'quality' of the CD player. I've heard definite differences between CD players/lossless computer audio and DVD players... but truth is that none of it was significant to me apart from in painstaking direct comparisons... But a poor quality recording tends to be obvious.

    5) Bi-wiring your speakers improves sound - I doubt it. So far I've been unable to tell the difference between single and bi-wired speakers even in direct comparison.
    To start off, I am of course NOT in the leagues of most if not all of the others have answered, but I will provide input for people on a more amateur level.

    1. Well, yes. I heard a pretty significant difference switching from the el-cheapo 18 gauge wire I had to the god-knows-how-thick solid copper extension cord I stripped and used. Great sound surprisingly, and cheap too.

    2. Never had a problem with it in my own experience. My speakers are sitting on some thick hockey socks which I folded up. They do a grand job of isolating them from my speaker stands.

    3. Wouldn't know. I don't even think my set-up is good enough to show a sonic difference between 'clean' power and 'dirty' power.

    4. Yes, yes and yes. Especially from really cheap stuff to mid-priced (mid priced being a couple hundred) stuff. My marantz made a great change to my system. Had been using an el-cheapo DVD player as a source...yeah. Big change. But the curve levels off after a certain point I think. Once you get into the thousands the difference becomes so minute only the best ears can hear the difference.

    5. Never bi-wired so I wouldn't know. Theoretically it would, but sonically, who knows. It may even just be the placebo effect.
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  10. #10
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    1) Upgrading Cables makes a sonic difference - IMO yes, but not a major one. Some very cheap and basic initial upgrades to thick, properly shielded cables will solve all my cable needs. Anything more expensive seems more about high profit margins than value for money to me.
    Varies with system. My attenuator arrangement in the main system requires very low capacitance ICs. Similarly, my stats really need a very low inductance speaker cable to deal with the reactive load.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    2) Vibration control devices (feet, heavy rocks, platforms/whatever) improve sound quality - IMO, probably - just listen to how bad a skipped record or CD sounds and it should be clear that vibration can affect sound... however, I think most products are sufficiently heavy, that unless you live on a train vibration probably isn't that big a deal.
    I've been using a VPI isolation base for turntables since the early 80s. Definitely can make a difference. I use Ceraball isolators with the CDP, but can't really say if they have much effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    3) Upgrading power cords/filtering power supplies improve sound - Theoretically yes... Based on how bad simple magnetic interference can make a tv image look, I can imagine a similar effect with sound quality... But I question how many of us live in areas with truly poor electrical signals/interference and also whether the standard shielded power cables of our components aren't sufficient...
    Definitely, but we're not talking night and day differences. I get better bass punch and the noise floor is slightly lower improving low level resolution. The canard is that you are trying to isolate yourself from a poor electrical service. The villains all live in your house - computers, routers, CD/DVD players, TiVOs, cable boxes- all digital stuff spews RFI back into your AC. It adds a touch of false brightness and hides real detail.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    4) Source makes a great difference in sound - Yes... but I think the biggest difference is the quality of the recording and not the 'quality' of the CD player. I've heard definite differences between CD players/lossless computer audio and DVD players... but truth is that none of it was significant to me apart from in painstaking direct comparsons... But a poor quality recording tends to be obvious.
    The recording is definitely the most important factor, but I've found a wide range of outcomes. It is easier to get cheap digital than cheap analog, but the quality of the DAC can sure make a difference.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    5) Bi-wiring your speakers improves sound - I doubt it. So far I've been unable to tell the difference between single and bi-wired speakers even in direct comparison.
    Have no experience, so I cannot comment.

    The odd thing about audio quality is that many folks really cannot judge when there is an improvement or not. Quite a few folks actually like poorer performance because it sounds *better* to them. Most audio stores employ cowboy techniques with sizzling highs and booming bass. Sounds great, right? Please. Shielded cables in all flavors tend to make the sound sound darker - which at first sounds less good. It is only when you realize that a later of haze has been removed and you are able to hear deeper into the recording. For me, the treasure lies at the low end of the dynamic spectrum. Higher resolution systems allow you to hear more at lower levels than lesser gear.

    rw

  11. #11
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    OK, my turn from someone that doesn't know dick, well I kinda know Rich but that's another thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    1) Upgrading Cables makes a sonic difference - IMO yes, but not a major one. Some very cheap and basic initial upgrades to thick, properly shielded cables will solve all my cable needs. Anything more expensive seems more about high profit margins than value for money to me.

    Not sure if you need to spend lots for cables but decent cables do refine the sound somewhat.


    2) Vibration control devices (feet, heavy rocks, platforms/whatever) improve sound quality - IMO, probably - just listen to how bad a skipped record or CD sounds and it should be clear that vibration can affect sound... however, I think most products are sufficiently heavy, that unless you live on a train vibration probably isn't that big a deal.

    Turntables YES. I think if you take care of placement for other sources one doesn't need any more isolation than the stock feet. Then again higher end stuff has pretty good feet anyway.

    3) Upgrading power cords/filtering power supplies improve sound - Theoretically yes... Based on how bad simple magnetic interference can make a tv image look, I can imagine a similar effect with sound quality... But I question how many of us live in areas with truly poor electrical signals/interference and also whether the standard shielded power cables of our components aren't sufficient...


    Dunno, but my money would be spend elsewhere.

    4) Source makes a great difference in sound - Yes... but I think the biggest difference is the quality of the recording and not the 'quality' of the CD player. I've heard definite differences between CD players/lossless computer audio and DVD players... but truth is that none of it was significant to me apart from in painstaking direct comparsons... But a poor quality recording tends to be obvious.

    As long as you don't have a cheap player, I agree that the recording is more important than the source, Sh!t in Sh!t out

    So why am I thinking about a good CD player then???


    Oh ya I remember, for the balanced outputs.

    5) Bi-wiring your speakers improves sound - I doubt it. So far I've been unable to tell the difference between single and bi-wired speakers even in direct comparison.

    When I got my marsh amp I hooked up the speakers normal for a few days until I could build a set of bi-wire cables, bi-wiring improved the sound hugel. The destructions actually recommend this and they where right. Not sure if having a balanced system has any effect (none of the sources are yet).
    Back in my day, we had nine planets.

  12. #12
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    All yes to some people in some systems. All No if you base your entire belief system in the DBT.

    Biwiring - some speakers have the bi-wiring plugs but are not really designed to be bi-wired so you'll hear nothing doing it. Some are truly designed for bi-wiring and will sound worse not bi-wiring . Unfortunately my speakers fall into this camp.

    Cables - depends on the cables and the system. Wire a system with all one wire (copper) and then wire the same system with a completely different wire (silver). That includes the voice coils cartridge interconnects speaker wires. If you hear a difference you have your answer.

    CD players - some expensive ones sound no better than cheap ones - then again some sound staggeringly better. Depends what you've heard and in what system.

    Vibration control is obvious yes.

    Power cords conditioners - yes depending what it is. i heard a conditioner clean up the noise floor and really fixed up a marantz receiver - it did absolutely nothing for Bryston (which already has an incredibly low noise floor). YMMV

  13. #13
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    1. In my experience cables make a difference. I am using all solid core IC's and bi-wired speaker cables. While I believe cables make a difference it takes me longer to determine if that change is an improvement. I have changed cables and thought wow listen to the detail in the highs and in a week I was jerking them out of the system because of all that detail. I have learned if a cable makes one part of the spectrum wow you it is probably not the right cable.

    2. The only thing I am doing for vibrations is the cones under my turntable. The hard cones replaced the compliant feet. Much tighter bass and a reduction in any muddying vibrations from the motor and bearing.

    3. I used a PS Audio power cord with the Cambridge Audio 640A because that amp picked up every bit of grunge from the ac. The Onkyo A-9555 has the lowest noise floor of any inexpensive int. amp in my experience. At first it's lack of noise and colorations made me think it was not as exciting. Once I broke my habit of listening to noise and colorations I found I enjoyed the music much more. I have no interest in an after market cord for the Onkyo.

    4. Source does make an important difference. If the source is not good an excellent recording can not shine through. Of course it was always easier to have an improperly set up turntable that would diminish the sound quality. Once people hear a properly set up and tweaked table they are amazed at how good their records can sound. I agree there is less difference in modern digital players. The Marantz SA 8001 is superior to the CD5001 but not by a huge margin. Speaking of cables I had begun to notice a lack of air in the SA 8001 and removed the AlphaCore TQ2 (21 guage) and returned the AlphaCore Micropurl (25 guage) and the high frequencies were back and the imaging improved. The change was obvious but I can not explain what characteristic of the cable made the change in sound.

    5. I bi-wire my Mo-Fi OML 1's. When I first received them I used single wire with the jumpers. They sounded good but I felt like the soundstage in the lower registers was broader and better defined. When I switched to the Audioquest Slates the highs opened up equal to the mids and lows. I felt the effect was more soundstage and definition than in frequency response. The tonal balance did not change except the highs were more open and extended.
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  14. #14
    Forum Regular Chas Underhay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    Ok... a few recent threads (like the one about Denon's new $500 Ethernet cable) got me thinking about what I really believe...

    Audiophile Myths or Facts? What's your opinion on any of these highly debated audio topics? N.B. Let's try and keep this clean... we are probably going to strongly disagree on many of these, but that doesn't mean we have to be nasty to one another...

    So here goes:

    1) Upgrading Cables makes a sonic difference - IMO yes, but not a major one. Some very cheap and basic initial upgrades to thick, properly shielded cables will solve all my cable needs. Anything more expensive seems more about high profit margins than value for money to me.

    2) Vibration control devices (feet, heavy rocks, platforms/whatever) improve sound quality - IMO, probably - just listen to how bad a skipped record or CD sounds and it should be clear that vibration can affect sound... however, I think most products are sufficiently heavy, that unless you live on a train vibration probably isn't that big a deal.

    3) Upgrading power cords/filtering power supplies improve sound - Theoretically yes... Based on how bad simple magnetic interference can make a tv image look, I can imagine a similar effect with sound quality... But I question how many of us live in areas with truly poor electrical signals/interference and also whether the standard shielded power cables of our components aren't sufficient...

    4) Source makes a great difference in sound - Yes... but I think the biggest difference is the quality of the recording and not the 'quality' of the CD player. I've heard definite differences between CD players/lossless computer audio and DVD players... but truth is that none of it was significant to me apart from in painstaking direct comparsons... But a poor quality recording tends to be obvious.

    5) Bi-wiring your speakers improves sound - I doubt it. So far I've been unable to tell the difference between single and bi-wired speakers even in direct comparison.

    Also, feel free to add any of your own myths/facts...
    Hi Ajani

    Cables: I think that going from old cr@p to decent quality (normal professional grade) can make a difference depending on how bad or correded the old cr@p ones were but going from decent quality to "exotic" is probably the start of the slipery slope.

    Vibration control: It obviously applies to TTs. I'm prepared to belive that there may have been genuine cases where some sort of aftermarket vibration control or damping devices have given an improvement in sound quality but I would suspect that this would be with cheaper items of equipment that may be subject to microphony particularly if it has been positioned close to speakers. Well constructed equipment shouldn't need it.

    Power cords / conditioners: I'm also prepared to belive that there may have been genuine cases where these products have given an improvement in sound quality but once again I would suspect that this would be with cheaper items of equipment. Good quality (not exotic) equipment should have good quality power supplies, screening etc and should not need further treatment of the incoming mains supply.

    Source components: The difference in sound quality between a budget record player (cartridge, pre amp, tone arm and turntable) and a good quality rig is vast; so, unfortunately, is the cost. The difference with digital sources is much much smaller. I don't want to brag about my toys but over the years I have invested quite a bit (well, quite a bit for me) in my record player (cos I've got quite a lot of records) but give or take the odd new cartridge, belt and some oil it will outlast me. I've not auditioned a CD player for years but I suspect that you'll get pretty damned close to as good as it gets for less than 1000. I know that you could go out and spend thousands on an exotic CD player but the chances are that in two years time, there will be a better sounding one for 500. Such is progress! I'll stick to middle of the road ones.

    Recording quality: Yep, that's really the begin all and end all. The only unfortunate thing is that once you've got decent kit; the good recordings sound fantastic but the bad ones hurt a lot more than they did on cheap kit.

    Bi wiring: Unless you are bi-amping; I can't see the point.

    Cheers

    Chas

  15. #15
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Re. reordings, not necessarily

    Quote Originally Posted by Chas Underhay
    ....

    Recording quality: Yep, that's really the begin all and end all. The only unfortunate thing is that once you've got decent kit; the good recordings sound fantastic but the bad ones hurt a lot more than they did on cheap kit.
    ...

    Chas
    Yes and no when it comes to bad recordings sounding (relatively) worse on good equipment. I have quite few recordings that sounded atrocious on my old, bad equipment but sound more than acceptable on the good stuff.

    In particular many "bright" recordings now sound pretty good without the old grain and hash, leaving a lot more genuine detail and transparency than I'd ever thought was there. None of this category has gone from hated to most loved, but many have gone from unlistenable to quite tolerable.
    Last edited by Feanor; 06-24-2008 at 03:36 PM.

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    1) Sometimes. Experience is the key here. You can believe they do or believe they don't but you won't know until you try. I agree that it isn't a dramatic difference - but it probably shouldn't be, anyway!

    2) Vibration control for a turntable is absolutely essential. I don't not use cones, footers or other devices for anything else but I would not care to play LP without it.

    3) I've tried 3 different power cords and have not heard one whit of sonic differences. That doesn't mean they won't make a difference in someone else's system or that other power cords might not change things in mine; just that I have not experienced any changes.

    4) With LP front ends, the source can make a large difference. With CDP's, my experience is that the differences are subtle. Having said that, I've heard the Audio Note DAC that changed my mind a bit. But I agree with the others that it is the recording that is the biggest culprit at the source level.

    5) I've never done controlled tests for bi-wiring and I haven't because I wasn't sure that I heard differences without controls present. No reason for me to pursue it further because if there are differences, they are too subtle for me to pick up.

    How about the myth that a cheap plastic receiver sounds the same as Krell separates? That's a favorite of mine.
    Form is out. Content makes its own form.
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    The format doesn't matter. The music is all that matters.
    - Musicoverall

  17. #17
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicoverall
    How about the myth that a cheap plastic receiver sounds the same as Krell separates? That's a favorite of mine.
    Of course they do....there is absolutely no credible evidence by DBT or otherwise proving that a Krell sounds any different than a cheap Technics receiver....when they're not plugged in.

  18. #18
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    Yes and no when it comes to bad recordings sounding (relatively) worse on good equipment. I have quite few recordings that sounded atrocious on my old, bad equipment but sound more than acceptable on the good stuff.

    In particular many "bright" recordings now sound pretty good without the old grain and hash, leaving a lot more genuine detail and transparency than I'd ever thought was there. None of this category has good from hated to most loved, but many have gone from unlistenable to quite tolerable.
    I think it really depends on the particular brands you select, some are just more critical of recordings than others while some tend to smooth things out. For example, the B&W 800 series made my good quality recordings sound fantastic, but raped all my lower quality recordings. On the other hand, the Monitor Audio Gold series also made my good recordings sound fantastic, but avoided making my lower quality ones sound painful.

  19. #19
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Of course they do....there is absolutely no credible evidence by DBT or otherwise proving that a Krell sounds any different than a cheap Technics receiver....when they're not plugged in.
    I agree.... I had an all Technics setup back in 2001 that I would put up against any "audiophile" amp regardless of price... once neither of them is plugged in.

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    Try this test

    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Of course they do....there is absolutely no credible evidence by DBT or otherwise proving that a Krell sounds any different than a cheap Technics receiver....when they're not plugged in.
    1) Take a cheap Technics receiver
    2) Plug it in
    3) Drop Krell power amp on top of Technics from a height of 6 feet.
    4) Record the "Bang" of the Krell as opposed to the "Crash" of the Technics.

    You'll see they sound different even when plugged in.
    Form is out. Content makes its own form.
    -Sam Rivers

    The format doesn't matter. The music is all that matters.
    - Musicoverall

  21. #21
    Rep points are my LIFE!! Groundbeef's Avatar
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    I have neither the least expensive, nor the most expensive audio equipment. However, for my purposes and budget the sound/video experience I have at home is very nice.

    I am wondering if at some point the "added value" of higher end equipment changes from an actual difference to a justification for the expense of the equipment.

    For example, there is a thread on this board discussing a $24,000 CD player. Please, is there really , a need for a $24,000 CD player? What could they possibly cram into the box that would justify that expense?

    And I have seen a TurnTable in a Playboy of mine that sold for OVER $120,000. Granted it's hand made, but what are you really buying? I would argue status. There has to be a line of diminishing returns, and I think at that point you are buying for status. Simply to say "I own a $120,000 TT, and YOU don't."

    I would also like to say that I certainly do not begrudge anyone from spending any amount of $$ on gear. Would I spend $120,000 on a TT if I could afford it? Certainly not, but I'm not going to wag my finger at someone that can.

    I am just wondering at what point do you feel that you are buying for status, and feel compelled to proclaim that your expense is in fact enhancing your muscial experience?
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  22. #22
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by Groundbeef
    I have neither the least expensive, nor the most expensive audio equipment. However, for my purposes and budget the sound/video experience I have at home is very nice.

    I am wondering if at some point the "added value" of higher end equipment changes from an actual difference to a justification for the expense of the equipment.

    For example, there is a thread on this board discussing a $24,000 CD player. Please, is there really , a need for a $24,000 CD player? What could they possibly cram into the box that would justify that expense?

    And I have seen a TurnTable in a Playboy of mine that sold for OVER $120,000. Granted it's hand made, but what are you really buying? I would argue status. There has to be a line of diminishing returns, and I think at that point you are buying for status. Simply to say "I own a $120,000 TT, and YOU don't."

    I would also like to say that I certainly do not begrudge anyone from spending any amount of $$ on gear. Would I spend $120,000 on a TT if I could afford it? Certainly not, but I'm not going to wag my finger at someone that can.

    I am just wondering at what point do you feel that you are buying for status, and feel compelled to proclaim that your expense is in fact enhancing your muscial experience?
    To be honest, I think it's hard to draw the line and determine when audiohiles have moved from "spending more to get more" (quality) to "spending for bragging rights".... The reason I say this is simply because: by default, when you buy a more expensive component it tends to have a more expensive finish (since as consumers spend more on a product, they generally expect a better finish as well, and the manufacturers makes sure to deliver it). So even if I move up from say a $1K floorstander from a Brand to a $2K one from the same brand because I'm looking for better sound, I will also tend to get much better fit and finish by default.

    To know how much just improving finish can jack up the cost of an item, try this test:

    Go to www.axiomaudio.com and try customizing their speakers with real wood Gloss Black finish... You can easily double the price of their speakers without in anyway improving sound quality, just by changing the finish from a vinyl print to a real wood veneer.

    Another problem is that many audiophiles would never admit that they bought a more expensive product because it looked better than the cheaper one... They'd instead write an essay in the review section about how the soundstage was improved and those subtle cues that make "music sound like music" were so much more prevalent with the more expensive gear....

    I almost always compare cheaper to more expensive lines from the same brand to see whether the jump in price is worth it... and though I've just about always heard a difference, I can't say that I was ever truly blown away by the difference... Whether I bought the more expensive model had more to do with what was in my wallet than anything else.

  23. #23
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    The odd thing about audio quality is that many folks really cannot judge when there is an improvement or not. Quite a few folks actually like poorer performance because it sounds *better* to them. Most audio stores employ cowboy techniques with sizzling highs and booming bass. Sounds great, right? Please. Shielded cables in all flavors tend to make the sound sound darker - which at first sounds less good. It is only when you realize that a later of haze has been removed and you are able to hear deeper into the recording. For me, the treasure lies at the low end of the dynamic spectrum. Higher resolution systems allow you to hear more at lower levels than lesser gear.
    Hmmmm..... I think there is a huge disconnect between what consumers are used to / want and what "audiophiles" accept.

    An audiophile will accept a setup that takes up his/her entire living room, and looks like some kind of mad scientist layer, but despite that imposing size, can barely fill the room with sound and has fairly weak bass response... simply because at low volumes it allows him to hear deeper into the mix than anything else...

    Consumers on the other hand, want a system that will blend in with the decor of their living room and fill it with sound as required (whether for their private listening sessions or for large parties).

    Personally, I'm somewhere in between.... I really can't stomach the though of spending thousands on a system that is only good at low to moderate volumes, but I also am unwilling to live with a low quality system that goes deep and loud...

    I suspect this is why B&W does so well... they deliver "audiophile" sound while giving consumers the loud, bright and bass heavy sound they expect...

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Groundbeef
    I have neither the least expensive, nor the most expensive audio equipment. However, for my purposes and budget the sound/video experience I have at home is very nice.

    I am wondering if at some point the "added value" of higher end equipment changes from an actual difference to a justification for the expense of the equipment.

    For example, there is a thread on this board discussing a $24,000 CD player. Please, is there really , a need for a $24,000 CD player? What could they possibly cram into the box that would justify that expense?

    And I have seen a TurnTable in a Playboy of mine that sold for OVER $120,000. Granted it's hand made, but what are you really buying? I would argue status. There has to be a line of diminishing returns, and I think at that point you are buying for status. Simply to say "I own a $120,000 TT, and YOU don't."

    I would also like to say that I certainly do not begrudge anyone from spending any amount of $$ on gear. Would I spend $120,000 on a TT if I could afford it? Certainly not, but I'm not going to wag my finger at someone that can.

    I am just wondering at what point do you feel that you are buying for status, and feel compelled to proclaim that your expense is in fact enhancing your muscial experience?
    Interesting point.
    I've wondered about the same thing over the last couple of months.
    I'm an audio novice, at least on the hardware side. I bought a new system a couple of months ago. I knew I wanted good sound and I wanted to play my cd collection with the quality it deserves. But, hey, those criteria are a bit vague.
    So I just went to a dealer I knew I could trust on selling quality and went listening for hours with a couple of cd's, not hampered by any knowledge what so ever.
    I came home with a NAD device and Monitor Audio speakers (BR5) together under 1,5K (euro).
    I listened to various speakers in that studio and I came home with almost the "cheapest" speakers there were in the setup. (Ok I was limited to a budget but there was some room left for more expensive ones)

    I read afterwards that my choice of speakers was not too bad, according to the reviews.
    So I wondered if speakers which costs ten times more (or even more) would deliver "ten times" extra. And would it be worth the money.
    Afterwards I was happy I didn't read any review on speakers so I wasn't pre-occupied and bought a more expensive set just because one says it's better.
    And for the really expensive stuff....isn't it that you buy it just because you can?

    Still wondering...........................

  25. #25
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    I really can't stomach the though of spending thousands on a system that is only good at low to moderate volumes...
    Nor am I. With wide dynamic range material, you get both.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    I suspect this is why B&W does so well... they deliver "audiophile" sound while giving consumers the loud, bright and bass heavy sound they expect...
    Exactly. Most folks prefer an exaggerated image. Like those who crank the color level on their TV where everyone looks kinda reddish.

    rw

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